VOL. 131 | NO. 44 | Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Last Word: Trump, Clinton and Stanton, The Greensward Vote and Cover Letters
By Bill Dries
This will be a relatively short edition of Last Word given the crush of an exceptional Tuesday in which a day at City Hall was more exciting than the state’s presidential primaries.
Before we get into all of the exceptionality that emanated from City Hall, here’s the quick bottom line of the elections.
Trump takes Tennessee easily over Cruz and Rubio in that order. Same order in Shelby County but much closer between Trump and Cruz – 988 votes.
Bigger turnout locally in the Democratic presidential primary where Clinton crushed Sanders with 80 percent of the vote. Same story second verse statewide.
Incumbent General Sessions Court Clerk Ed Stanton easily beat back a Democratic primary challenge from William Stovall. He meets Republican Richard Morton on the August general election ballot.
Overall turnout in Shelby County was almost 28 percent, a couple of percentage points ahead of the last two presidential primaries.
You can find the totals here, which is more than I can say for the Election Commission’s website Tuesday evening.
No totals and then at a bit past 11 p.m. 165 of the 166 precincts. Meanwhile, some earlier returns that eluded the Election Commission counter surfaced on the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website.
Now to City Hall:
Around 10 a.m. Tuesday, the rumored Overton Park Greensward resolution showed up on the Memphis City Council’s website documents section.
That’s 20 pages with maps and complex legal text that city officials who had to have at least known about this were saying just a day earlier wasn’t ready or that they didn't know about. Not only was it ready. It had nine of the 13 council members as sponsors.
It passed with 11 votes.
The resolution gives the Memphis Zoo control of the northern part of the greensward, effectively ending the Chancery Court lawsuit on that very point – it appears. That’s still being sorted out.
It also makes the council a player in something the old council that left office at the end of 2015 wanted no part of. The resolution asserts that the council, by the city charter, is the true arbiter of what happens to city property. And Mayor Jim Strickland, who was on the old council, agrees.
Strickland came to the council on other business Tuesday. Nothing to vote on but a staggering dollar figure of surprise expenses the city has over the next three to five years -- $136.1 million. Almost half of that is the cost of a new radio system police and firefighters need in about two years. Another surprise is that the much celebrated $30 million Choice Neighborhoods grant of 2015 to demolish and redevelop Foote Homes and develop the larger South City area is contingent on the city coming up with $30 million to match it over a five-year period.
These two and the council’s rejection of a hotel at Front and Jackson by the Pyramid – which is at the bottom of our greensward story – were stiff competition for an alleged move to ban citizen comments at council meetings.
That was never the idea. But the council is exploring some rules for the comments. And it turns out that it involves some very deep dynamics of the relationship between elected officials and the people who elect them.
Some protesters showed up at council Tuesday with tape across their mouths which has become a symbol of the local movement.
Council chairman Kemp Conrad told them they were free to take the tape off since they would be allowed to speak or they could keep the tape on.
We got a look at the specifics of the Mud Island River Park proposals made by four companies earlier this month. A working group of the Riverfront Development Corp. narrowed the four companies to two on its way to coming up with a plan for the redevelopment of a river park that is about to open in April for its next season. We also talked with RDC president Benny Lendermon about what happens next.
What happens to a retail auto supply business when gas prices drop and continue to drop? If the company is AutoZone, they post an eight percent gain in their second quarter.
Germantown Community Theater is expanding … something of a trend with the coming expansion of Hattiloo Theater in Overton Square.
Angela Copeland on the Death of the Cover Letter.
And the latest on the Tennessee Legislature’s great liquor store cap debate.